Showing posts from May, 2008

Weighing in

I'm not used to so little exercise. Actually, I'm not used to no exercise.

In my old life, I used to start my day by descending 26 stairs. I'd walk around a college campus all day at work and then climb back up those stairs a time or two on my way to a volleyball match, the gym, my dance class or a walk in the park.

These days, I don't really climb stairs; I drag my feet, one at a time, slowly up till I reach the top. I walk from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen and do arm lifts as I eat my ice cream nearly each night.

I feel lazy and yechy.

So today, I decided to drag out the scale to see just how bad things were. I know I'm thin, but I've been a little worried about my weight, mostly before the surgery, cause my metabolism isn't what it used to be.

The good news: I've lost about six pounds. The bad news: I've lost about six pounds of muscle. A few of my ab muscles and a lot of my left leg muscles have shrunk, and a much softer material has…

5 weeks post-op

A lot of things can happen in five weeks.

A rabbit can deliver a litter.

The Colorado Rockies can turn their season around and go to the World Series. (Last season, anyway.)

And I can now tie my own shoes and sit on and get up from the floor without trouble.

It's amazing what five weeks can do, no?

Lately I have been feeling as if my recovery is at a standstill. Luckily, I tried the shoe and floor tasks today and now have new accomplishments to brag about. I still feel great as a whole but not much has changed, including my complaints, which are few:

My hip is still tender to the touch on the outside and still stiff on the inside. I still fear -- like I fear nothing else -- the sneeze. I still sleep like crap and I still get bugged by having to use my crutches to walk even the smallest distance.

On the plus side, I haven't taken any pain meds in more than a week. I'm able to crutch around stores like Home Depot and Target without getting too tired. I'm getting so used to stai…

Follow-up care

I made my eight-week follow-up appointment today after talking things over with Dr. Mayo. Instead of flying back out to Tacoma, I am going to see an associate of his in Denver.

Prior to the past couple of weeks, I was adamant that Dr. Mayo would be handling all of my follow-up care. I didn't want to compromise anything. My thoughts started to change a few weeks into recovery. While I still don't want to compromise the health of my hips, I've had no problems thus far and would rather not travel alone on crutches and spend the money on the plane ticket.

Dr. Mayo said that because the eight-week appointment is fairly routine (x-rays and passive range of motion check) he's okay with his associate doing the check-up and reporting back to him. I will need to go to Tacoma for my six-month appointment, though.

I'm SO looking forward to getting the thumbs up to start weight bearing.

A word about CPMs

I want to take this moment to promote the infamous continuous passive motion (cmp) machine.

For those of you unfamiliar, the machine holds the operated leg and slowly moves it up and down. Each day, the angle of movement -- and therefore, the hip's range of motion -- is increased a little. Most cpms are made for knee patients, but they also work for hips.

Because each surgeon is different, not all prescribe the machine for PAO patients, which I think is a shame. Luckily for me, Dr. Mayo strongly believes in them.

I was put into a hip-specific machine just hours after I was moved to my hospital room. I was in it 24/7, unless I was up doing PT. It never hurt, though at times my hip felt very tight and pressured. Two days after my surgery, my machine broke in the middle of the night and I didn't get a new one for 12 hours. During that time and for hours afterward, I was completely stiff and uncomfortable. I had gained a new appreciation for the clunky thing.

Back at home, I was in a …

Rain, rain go away

It has been raining for the past two days, and I feel as if I've regressed by two weeks.

I'm really stiff and achy, and I don't know if it's just in my head. I've heard so many stories about how weather makes people with giant screws or metal plates in their pelvis/femur feel this way ... so is it real or not?

Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing the sun shine again and getting rid of this yechy feeling!

4 weeks post-op

Today I hit the four-week post-op mark. I've been told by many people that this stage in recovery is a big turning point. It's funny, though; I don't know how much more progress I can make that I haven't already. For that reason, I would like to start today's lists of post-op progress with one one of the things that I still can not do, rather than things I've accomplished.

Still can't do
Sit on the floor (bet I could if I tried)Tie my shoelaces ... or anyone's, I supposeWear fitted jeansKeep up with a normal person while walking with my crutchesSneeze without feeling like my hip is going to rip apartSing anything like new American Idol David Cook (What can I say? Mom got me hooked.)New accomplishments
Touch the toes on my bad leg when it's propped up, such as on the tubDrive my carClimb and descend stairs confidentlySleep on my stomach and my good side with no odd feelings in my hipPick up items on the floor (easier when sitting)Sit at 90 degrees comfo…

Vroom vroom

Two big things happened today.

1) I drove my car.
2) I cooked dinner.

Both have done wonders to make me feel like my old self. I can't believe I'm feeling so good! My biggest concern is not pushing too hard as to ruin my new hip.

Vroom vroom!

Back to work

I've taken four weeks off my job, and now that I'm feeling better, I decided it was time to get back to it.

I work as a web content editor for a college's public relations department, which means I'm able to do a lot of work from home. My boss and the college have been extremely supportive of the time I have needed to take off. I'm very lucky for that.

Before my surgery, I filed for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which secures my job for 12 weeks. I didn't really need to worry about losing my job, but our human resources department recommended filing.

Because I have to commute for an hour each way to work, I plan to do as much work as I can from here and from my place in Colorado before committing to the office. While it will be nice to see my co-workers again (hi, Josh!), I'm not sure I can handle a very full eight-hour day, a two-hour drive, and 26 stairs.

For now, I'm happy putting in half days from my recliner for another few weeks.

Stairs and conquering and such

I warily went up my first stair on Mother's Day, two and a half weeks post op. This week, I've conquered 14 stairs in a row no less than four times each day. Going up takes a little more effort and tends to cause a little more discomfort; going down causes more fear and requires more concentration.

Tonight, I climbed those 14 wooden stairs with a backpack and a bag from Target in hand. (Photo for all my girlfriends who wanted me to zoom around in the motorized cart.)

And if that wasn't enough, today I also decided to try to get into my little two-door coupe to see if I'd ever be able to drive back to Colorado. I conquered that, as well. And it was EASY.

And if that wasn't enough, today I also was able to kneel with my good leg on the floor to search for something in a low cabinet.

And if that wasn't enough, today I also was able to grab from a standing position -- not with my grabber but with my own hand -- a cord that was ON THE FLOOR.

I have a new gnawing pai…

Spring finally comes to Montana

Today was the first warm day since I've been back in beautiful Montana, and I made good use of it. I took my crutches as far as they would carry me down our gravel driveway and then sat outside on a normal chair with the barn cats cuddled up either on me or under the chair.

As the wind whistled through the pine trees, as the sun warmed my skin, and as the robins and magpies sounded their unique tunes, I felt relaxed and at peace. I had no pain, and I felt normal.

I'd never taken my good health for granted, but going through this recovery makes me feel even more grateful for what I had, and what I still have. Physical problems affect so many parts of everyday life, and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to fix what was hurting me.

Welcome, Spring, welcome.

Sensations and pain details

Before my PAO, I would read the blogs of fellow PAOers/FDOers or information on the Hip Women support group and wonder: What is the pain really like? How does it feel?

I thought I would describe a bit of what I've been feeling in order to help those of you who are still on the pre-op side. I hope this post eases your mind instead of causing fear, as I'm happy to say that the pain never was completely overwhelming, and it's been much easier than I imagined.

The first week
LOTS of stiffness in the joint; lots of swelling in the leg and surrounding area; centralized gripping pain deep in my hip that became stronger with movement or pressure (like when laughing/coughing, etc); uncontrollable itching (from the dilaudid); absolutely no nausea (except in the recovery room); heavy legs; lower back pain (from lying on it for so long); hot flashes and flushing. My groin area was hit with a brief, hot, searing pain on days two and three that took my breath away, but I haven't felt t…

3 weeks post-op

I am getting stronger each day. The physical changes have come so quickly that I never had to set goals to reach them; they just came on their own. I'm so happy for that. At three weeks post-op, I can:
Get through the day with no pain meds, even Tylenol. I still take the 5 mg of oxycodone at night to help me sleep. I probably will switch to Tylenol P.M. once I get the doctor's ok. My pain is either non-existent or manageable, depending on the day. More on that later.Lie comfortably (ok, maybe not comfortably) on both my stomach and my side, and switch from stomach to side to back ON MY OWN. This is helping tremendously in the sleeping situation, even though the side and stomach positions feel tingly and tight.Get in and out of bed easily. (Ok, maybe not easily. It takes about a minute to accomplish this.) I still hold the strap around my foot in my right hand and put my left hand under my knee to move my leg enough to get it into bed.Ride in the pickup without feeling uncomfort…


Today was my last Fragmin injection, which is a relief because my poor tummy is dotted with little, sore, round bruises.

To celebrate, I decided to partake in an adult beverage this evening, my first since before the surgery. I had three glasses of wine and decided I better stop. Nobody wants to see a drunk girl on crutches. Or a drunk girl on crutches fall down. My crutches fall down enough as it is.

Speaking of which, why doesn't somebody invent some kind of kickstand so the darn things don't tip over so much?

Post-surgery must haves

Long-handled grabberMy most useful tool. I will be bringing this to the hospital, as well.
Get one here:

Hand sanitizer and moist wipes
Getting up to the sink was a huge chore, if not impossible at times. These were especially important in the hospital.

Small pillow for car trips
I used a pillow to place between my hip and the seat belt. It did not feel good to have the belt rubbing against my hip. I also used pillows to prop my leg and hold it in position since the car's stops, starts and turns made my leg move around.
Get this one here:

Long-handled scrubber for shower
A body poof attached to a long wooden handle was a dream for me to help wash my lower legs and feet while sitting on my bench in the shower (also a must-have).

It was nice to be able to change positions by putting my legs up so easily.

Water bottle with looped handle
I filled mine half full at night, froze it, and then filled it with water in the morning. The looped handle…

A long day in Real Pants!

To celebrate Mother's Day yesterday, we planned a big day in Billings, including dinner at a nice restaurant. I was pretty excited about the outing until I realized that amongst the restaurant's white tablecloths, candlelight and beautiful decorations would be my gray, 100 percent stretch cotton sweatpants. Not a pretty sight.

So I dug deep into my drawer and pulled out a pair of Real Pants. Would they fit? Only a week ago I foolishly tried to pull them up over my giant, swelled, tender leg. Yesterday, I held my breath as and gently eased them up, up, up over my hips and then managed to zip the zipper and snap the snap. Victorious! Not only was I thrilled that I could fit into them, I was amazed that I hadn't forgotten how to work a zipper and snap! Now don't get me wrong. Real Pants were not without some sacrifice. They rubbed against my incision and I had to unsnap them while in a sitting position to loosen them, but it wasn't too bad. I wore these Real Pants on o…

Hallucinations and pain

Both have been accompanying me as I wean off my pain meds.

My oxycontin prescription has run out, which leaves me with plain ole oxycodone to relieve my pain. I've been weaning myself from those, as well, and normally take one or two a day (instead of 1-2 every four hours). The combination has led me to discover just how much pain they've been masking.

The first day off the oxycontin was the hardest, as I hadn't slept much due to hallucinations in the night; extreme hot and cold flashes; and general discomfort of sleeping completely on my back with my leg in the cpm. When I got out of bed in the morning, everything hurt. From the palms of my hand to my armpits to both hips and knees, I was aching. It's not terrible pain, but combined with a lack of sleep, they're enough to make me a little cranky.

I got little to no sleep again last night, and started to cry this morning when Mom asked me what was wrong. "I'm so tired of not being able to move," I cri…

2 Weeks

Today marks two weeks since my PAO. I've been able to do so much more than I had expected I would be able to do thus far, and am extremely proud of my progress. Of course, there are a few things that are more complicated than I had imagined, but I'm doing so well that I've actually begun to think about getting the right hip done this year too. More on that later.

My mom commented today that she thinks I'm moving around much better than I was just a few days ago, but then she laughed as I crutched away, saying, "I can see your right calf muscle, but your left one is gone."

Yeah, my leg muscles have gone into a PAO hibernation, but not as badly as I thought. I'm doing most of my PT, which I think is helping, and I'm up to 63 degrees in the cpm.

I can now get my own shoes and socks on using the grabber; get in and out of the tub by using a long strap to lift my leg; get out of bed by myself as long as I'm not in the machine; get in and out of the pickup…

The Best Shower Ever

I took my second shower at home today, which reminded me that I forgot to post about the shower I took in the hospital, The Best Shower Ever.

The Best Shower Ever happens on a Monday afternoon, five full days after I had showered last.
The Best Shower Ever is letting hot water massage my back, which I had been lying on for five straight days.
The Best Shower Ever is rinsing off the feeling of dozens and dozens of strangers' hands touching my arms, legs, feet, stomach and back to check my vitals, my wound, my everything.
The Best Shower Ever is cleaning up the five days worth of grime and sweat from my hair and body.
The Best Shower Ever is washing off the nurse-induced, fear-induced, pain-induced tears that had run down my face and neck.
The Best Shower Ever is feeling clean again after an operating room full of people has been extremely intimate with a very private area of my body.

Here at my parents' place, I shower while sitting on a shower bench. My mom lifts my leg over the tub…

Six down, eight to go

My least favorite part of the day is midmorning, when I have to give myself a shot of Fragmin, a blood thinner to prevent blood clots.

All my Hip Sisters know what a pain the butt ... er ... stomach they are.

I'm not really scared to do it; I'm not afraid of needles or the sting they inflict. But it's just hard for me to push that thing into my belly. If I think about it too much, I simply cannot do it and end up with my hand in the ready position for minutes on end! Mom laughs at me, but always tells me how brave I am when it's over for the day.

Six down, eight to go!

Day 11 and post-op X-rays

I can't believe how well I'm doing. On Day 11, I can:
Walk up to 50 feet at a time before I get too tiredGet in and out of chairs/wheelchairs by myself and sit in almost any chairGet dressed by myself by using my grabber to pull up my pants. Mom still has to help with my socks and shoes, though.Use the restroom by myselfShave both my legs by sitting on the shower bench!Stand confidently at the sink long enough to wash my face, brush my teeth and put a little make-up on.Get in and out of a pick-up and ride comfortably for a couple of hours
I made two trips to Billings (an hour's drive each way) in the past two days to see my grandma in the hospital. We used a wheelchair to get me around the hospital and my crutches for the rest. Last night we even stopped at a restaurant for dinner, and I just sat in my wheelchair. It was so nice to get out! The day was a little tiring, but not as bad as I would have thought. I had only a little pain, and that was only when my oxycontin was w…

One week

It's so good to be home.

The hospital was hard; there's no way to sugercoat it. I may expand on that later. The trip was neither horrific nor easy, but Mom and I got through it. I've been trying to catch up on sleep and energy in the past couple of days. I'm not as tired as I thought I might be, but the surgery and drugs are taking a toll on me.

I'm taking 20 mg of oxycontin twice a day and about one 5 mg oxycodone tablet and 25 mg of hydroxyzine four times a day. Pain is tolerable and hurts the most when: sitting, getting in and out of the cpm machine, blowing my nose and laughing.

The laughing part has been the hardest. Mom and Jamie experienced something so funny at the hospital that they: 1) ended up in the bathroom as to not wet themselves 2) took pictures of this so-called funny incident and 3) kept the joke from me because they knew I wouldn't be able to handle it. I'm still waiting to hear the story, but it probably will take another week or so.

The …